Hon Tariana Turia – Valedictory Statement

Speech – Hon TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader – Māori Party) – Thursday, 24 July 2014

In The House videos:

Valedictory Statement – Tariana Turia – 24th July, 2014 – Part 5

Valedictory Statement – Tariana Turia – 24th July, 2014 – Part 6

Hansard Draft Transcript:

Hon TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader – Māori Party): Tēnā koe, te Kaiw’akawā o tēnei W’are.

Mr SPEAKER: Tēnā koe.

Hon TARIANA TURIA:

There is nowhere where I feel more at peace than in the still tranquillity of the * Whanganui River, * Te Awa Tupua, our life blood, our tribal heartbeat, the sacred umbilical cord that unites us from the mountain to the sea.

Every year our iwi come together to connect as one through the journey that we call the Tira Hoe Waka. In many ways the last 18 years in this place have been like that same journey that we take: a journey of hope, hope for a better future for our * mokopuna. Our * hīkoi always starts in the spirit of those who watch over us.

Today I remember those who paved the way before me, to restore our right to see * Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the first relationship agreement between * tangata w’enua and with the Government representing the Crown.

I am proud to have upheld the Treaty of Waitangi, the * kaupapa and * tikanga of our people in all that I have done in this environment. My * tūpuna have walked before me. They have walked beside me, and my mokopuna will carry those philosophies on as we build nationhood in this country that we all love.

I am genealogically linked to * Ngā Wairiki, * Ngāti Apa, * Te Awa Tupua o Whanganui, * Ngā Rauru Kītahi, and * Ngāti Tūwharetoa. It is to these people that I will return when I leave here at the end of my parliamentary term—those who have grounded me, those who have reminded me of my place, and yet have loved me despite.

I was raised by my grandmother Hoki Waewae, my aunt * Mihiterina and * Tariuha Manawaroa Te Aweawe, my precious dad, who was my dad although he was not my father. When I was 8, I became a * whāngai to my wonderful aunts at * Pūtiki. My * Auntie Wai and Auntie Paeroa had huge expectations of me.

I was brought up to believe that doing what was right was more important than doing what was popular. They instilled discipline and strong whānau values in me—to love unconditionally and to be the best at whatever I did.

When I came to Parliament with Labour in 1996 I followed in the footsteps of whānau: * Tokouru Rātana, * Matiu Rātana, and * Iriaka Rātana. They came here to honour the * kawenata their papa had with * Michael Joseph Savage of the Labour Party.

Today I ask as an * uri of their iwi: what happened to that kawenata? When will the * mōrehu and the iwi of our country see the outcomes that * Tahupōtiki Wīremu Rātana sought for us all that have never been honoured?

To Chester, Nathan, Jonathan, and Ian, those of you who are part of my electorate too, I want to mihi to you all and to say to you how proud I have been to walk alongside you, and for your friendship, and I have so appreciated that. There are others who have watched over me too and I will forever cherish the memories that I carry with me.

My cousin the late Sir Archie Taiaroa* supported me all the way through my political career, and I would call him for his wise counsel. Archie stood with me when I resigned from the Labour Government at Rātana*, , and I will never forget that.

When I was thinking of leaving, he talked to me about the experience of Matiu Rata*, , whom he himself had encouraged to leave, not realising at the time that our people would forget his sacrifice and not vote for him. Archie worried that the same thing would happen to me—that our people would forget.

I was able to reassure him that I would always be political whether I was here or outside of Parliament, that in the end I had to live with myself, and there is no greater challenge than to be true to one’s own self.

I think about my cousin Rangitihi Tahupārae*, , who worked for many years here at Parliament, the most distinguished and eloquent orator in either language. He taught me to love all that we are and to walk with pride in the knowledge of our w’akapapa*.

The late Dr Irihāpeti Ramsden*, , a wonderful friend and w’anaunga, was another one who when I found myself in trouble here, which seemed to happen a bit, would always appear in the public gallery—so beautiful, so gracious, and so principled.

And my beloved friend-in-arms Parekura—I miss him so much. Whenever I think of Parekura, I think of how important he has been to my family. My baby, my mokopuna* whom I have raised, Piata, who would have given anything to be Ngati Porou*, , used to come home from school and say to me “Māmā*, , can I just say that I am?”, because she wanted Parekura to be her real pāpā.

I have carried those people who have shaped me into the person have become, and I will love them and my extended w’ānau* forever. Because of them our tira* has a strong foundation. Today is my chance to acknowledge all those who helped to keep our waka afloat to ensure that our tira moves forward.

So I stand to honour so many amazing people in this complex, who give so much and so freely.

The security teams, the VIP drivers, the messengers, the library staff, and the travel team—all of these people constantly go out of their way to make our lives easier.

The cleaners who restore order in our offices and on our floor, the Bellamy’s* team, the Clerk of the House, our interpreters, the conscientious team in the Cabinet Office, Parliamentary Service*, , and Ministerial Services*, your sacrifices were many and your dedication has been appreciated.

On the many sides of this W’are* are those whom I have served alongside of, whether at the Cabinet table or in a select committee, or being held to account at question time or in political panels—all of you who work so hard for what you believe in.

I would not have come to Parliament if it was not for the endorsement of the Rt Hon Helen Clark and the Hon Maryan Street, and I will never forget that it was your trust in me and your advocacy that got me here. I will always remember that.

There were other people in Labour whom I value working with, many of you. I will not name you all, but there were some who I learnt so much from.

I think of Tim Barnett and that when I used to go to caucus I could never get a paper through until Tim took it off me and worked on it for me.

Annette King, who was an amazing Minister and who taught me so much. I want to mihi to you today, Annette.

And Darren Hughes—that amazing young man Darren Hughes—who I thought would one day be the leader of the Labour Party and who in fact will end up being the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I miss him so much; he was a great young man, a beautiful young man.

I mihi to my colleagues who were foundation members of the Māori Party, because you have shaped a new horizon for this country.

You have imbued this Chamber with the beauty and force of * Te Reo Māori, you have established cultural competency as a norm, and you have ensured that nobody gets left behind. We are stronger because or your influence, bolder because of your integrity.

Dr Pita Sharples—I hate following him in speeches! I said “Mr Nice Guy”, but I should have said “Mr Funny Guy”. He is always “Mr Nice Guy.” He is never one to look for the problems. He is always positively focused.

Te Ururoa, the steady hand on the rudder steering us on the right course, the general manager of everything, the ideal member of Parliament who understands process so well, a great leader.

Hone Harawira, my great friend who has also been my great foe. How do you really love the essence of someone and yet be so frustrated by them at the same time?

Rahui Katene, the hardest-working paddler in our waka—always willing, always there. I was so sad because you deserved to win. You put in the hard yards. You were just so great.

I have an all-encompassing love for our founding president, Matua * Whatarangi Winiata. When we were having arguments in the caucus—not only with Pete would I argue, but often get into stoushes with Hone. Matua would look at us and I would say to him “Matua, what do you think?”

He would say “Yes, I am just trying to work out which * kaupapa is operating here today.”

I want to thank * Pem Bird and * Naida Glavish, who have been two incredible leaders, for the vital role that you have played not only in our first 10 years but in getting us to where we are today. I want to say thank you to Heta Hingston* for gifting us our very first constitution.

As much as we have often struggled to keep to the rules, we have tried so hard.

I am indebted to the people of * Te Tai Hauāuru for your generosity and support to both me and my * w’ānau. You have worked tirelessly. I mihi to you all because you believed in the kaupapa of our tūpuna and saw the vision of the Māori Party.

There are many others who have helped along the way of our journey. I mihi to * Rob Cooper and sister Makiri Te Tawaroa, who politicised me—probably much to everybody else’s dismay—to professor Sir * Mason Durie for your execeptional leadership, to Nancy, to Doug, to Merepeka, to Suzanne, the various departmental heads who comprised the original governance group, which set out W’ānau Ora and set us on the right path.

I have valued the enormous support that I have received as a Minister from officials of various agencies who have provided me with support and advice.I know that I have not been an easy Minister for you to serve. I can acknowledge that, as I am sure officials and others across this House will say so also.

How can I ever put into words the love that I have for our parliamentary staff, who have been exceptional, working always beyond the call of duty—one of two of them working almost through the night? I have expected you all to put the people you serve before your agencies and your careers. I know that that has been a huge sacrifice.

And, of course, my w’ānau. A wall plaque was given to me by Pati Umaga, somebody whom I just so love. He gave it to me, and it read: “W’ānau: we may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” I believe this implicitly. Every journey along our river inevitably faces the churning waters of the rapids, the turmoil and the chaos of the reporepo that we find ourselves swirling within.

In this place I have felt profoundly the pain of the entrenched inequities too many Māori and Pasifika families face in terms of the lack of equitable access to health, education, housing, employment, and economic opportunity.

I have at times been devastated by the institutional racism that continues to limit our potential as a people. We should never be silent on the things that matter—the barriers that block our ability to be the best that we can be—and we must never be afraid to talk about anything that we know to be true and that we know to be right.

It is only when we let fear take over and when we do not speak up that we let people down. I recall being really nervous when I accepted the role of Minister for Disability Issues*.

I felt so inadequate to fulfil this position and I realised very quickly that my job was to listen carefully to the many voices and to translate that into actions with support from the excellent officials and people in the sector.

The disability sector has had an enormous influence on me, with their brave audacity to tell their own tale: “Nothing about us without us.” They asked me to have the confidence and the trust to believe that we can do whatever it takes, to believe in our abilities, not our disabilities, and the words continue to reverberate in my heart and mind.

I will always be indebted to the disability communities for their ability to lead with so much dignity and inspiration.

In my time here I have challenged officials that we must not be fixated by a focus on deficits, looking on everything that is wrong. It is so much better to look for the potential in people to change. It is in our attitudes, our ability to think differently, that the key to transformation lives.

In this regard I mihi to those peoples of the Pacific who let me share their journey, Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu—one of the most revolutionary frameworks that I have ever known.

I thank the people of * Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, who have been so generous in sharing their vision with me—people like Peseta Betty Sio, Tino Pereira, * Judge Ida Malosi, Yvonne Creighton-Hill, and many others.

I acknowledge too the leadership of the Pacific Advisory Group and the Māori Reference Group for your proactive work on family violence.

I mihi to Judge Peter Boshier* and to Judge Paul von Dadelszen* for your leadership and trust in people-led solutions.

If ever it is possible to form a really strong relationship with a community, it must be the one that is being established for me in the Chathams. Their resilience, their absolute belief in themselves, probably to the detriment of their own growth as they were overlooked by funders, has been totally inspiring, and I thank them for their * manaakitanga towards me and towards Chris also.

Even the steadiest waka can be overturned, and it was that way for me in the early months of 2004 as we reeled to the decisions made in the House around the foreshore and seabed.

In those moments of despair I have always gone to our river, to our awa, to reclaim a sense of being—the blessing of the water that heals—and in that quiet space I find the answers that lie within me. And so it was for our * w’anau, hapū, and iwi as we considered how we would respond to the denial of due process and access to justice, the belittling of our status as * tangata w’enua, which will always be for ever recorded as a modern-day Treaty breach.

The advent of the foreshore and seabed legislation created the tensions that led to me leaving Labour and in the same breath gave birth to our indigenous political movement, the Māori Party. I am not sorry today that that happened and that I left.

I have the utmost respect for Georgina Beyer, who sacrificed her political aspirations to stand alongside of me at * Rātana. Ten years on those days are still vividly written in my mind as a milestone moment in the story of our nation.

Through the anguish and the pain as the people came together in solidarity, we knew that we were part of an incredible juncture in our history as we witnessed a powerful uprising of the spirit. It was the most evocative moment of my life—to feel the will of the people, the calling of our * tupuna to reclaim the essence of who we are, and to stand for what we knew was right. It was self-determination in action.

As I think of that sea of flags and placards that filled the foreground of Parliament, I am reminded of the image that we see at home every summer when our collective fleet of waka glide into Pūtiki*, , an amazing expression of pride, of strength, of power, and of peace.

The Tira Hoe waka is a journey of rediscovery, in which we literally fall in love with ourselves again. In many ways, for me so too is the Māori Party. Put simply, this is the dream of W’ānau Ora—to know ourselves, our strengths, and our challenges, and to plot our futures.

We cannot talk rangatiratanga* and not be self-determining. We know the call from Pūao-te-ata-tū*, , Matua Whāngai*, , kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa, kura-ā-iwi, w’are wānanga, local level solutions, direct resourcing, even closing the gaps, He Korowai Ōranga, and Māori and Pasifika health and social services. They are all models where the people have put forward a framework for tomorrow.

We stand on the shoulders of the past to look forward to a greater future.

I want to take this opportunity to mihi to somebody in the House for whom I have huge respect and regard, and that is Hekia. Tēnā koe ki te Minita*. I have absolutely loved your passionate belief that all of our children have a right to succeed in education. Second-best is not part of your vocabulary, and only excellence will do.

You know that we are preparing the next leaders of this nation. I believe totally in what you are doing and I want to say that today in this House. One of the most exhilarating experiences of my life was to travel throughout the country, meeting with Māori and Pasifika communities about a w’ānau* way forward.

Often the halls were crowded to full capacity—600 people crammed together, standing room only. It was a buzz and I will always remember it. W’anau Ora resonated with them because they understood completely what collective responsibility and obligation was and how it needed to be restored to those who had been affected by the many losses that they had suffered.

They did not ask what the Government could do for them. They asked instead that we trust them to develop their own solutions, to take them forward, and to trust that they knew better than anyone in the huge bureaucracies that we have here in Wellington.

This hīkoi that we have been on, then, is a hīkoi for all time. What we have represented with the growth of the Māori Party is the possibility of a strong and independent Māori voice, forever able to sit in Parliament.

We were not content to sit on the sidelines and to watch from afar as the lives of our people waited in the queue for the time to be right. We have never been about the rhetoric of the right or the left, and I am so grateful to those members of the press gallery who actually got that, who have asked searching questions and been prepared to reflect our philosophies, rather than regurgitating their own.

We are driven by * kaupapa and what unites us rather than what divides us. Being in the Māori Party has been the greatest opportunity to sing our songs and to tell our stories.

We have had the freedom to focus on what is right for * tangata w’enua and to know that it would also be right for our brothers and sisters from * Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, and we knew it would be right for this country. It is the first time in our history and of the world that an indigenous political party has been truly part of Government in a coalition arrangement.

It has been exciting, liberating, invigorating, inspiring, and occasionally challenging. I have so enjoyed the respectful, honest, and upfront relationship with John Key and Bill English, a relationship that has allowed both of us to be direct, acknowledging our different constituencies and agreeing to disagree.

It has been a relationship that is based on mutual cooperation, and we are pleased with what we have achieved. We are also proud of what we have managed to change or stop, and we are not going to talk about the disappointments.

I have been driven by a determination, passion, and desire, and, as Bill English would say, a stubborn resolve to make a difference. I always wanted to be in relationship where what we had to say mattered, to be part of the solution, and not limited to picking the problems apart.

Although we were unable to achieve all the aspirations of our people, I know that we have made a difference in the lives of whānau, whatever their circumstances, and in that respect I leave with a feeling of peace, that we have always tried to do our best and to do what it is that is right for them.

I cannot leave this House without recognising a real friend, Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty settlements Minister that we have ever had in this country.

In our iwi we have had the longest litigation in the history of this country over our river. It is just around the corner, and I want to say thank you to you so much for working so hard alongside our whānau, hapū, and iwi of Whanganui. I have tried to live up to the legacy and the expectation from so many of our iwi leaders who have sacrificed so much to let the stories of our whānau, hapū, and iwi resound, not just in books of history but in the throbbing heartbeat of a nation that knows.

I come then to a turning point in my journey, as I prepare to steer our waka homewards. I say to you all to be led by the people you serve. It is the greatest opportunity that any of you could ever have hoped for.

I have been humbled by the trust that has been placed in me, and there are so many people who have helped me throughout my lifetime—too many to name individually—but I want you all to know that I can be for ever thankful for the influence that you have had on my thinking. Your lessons will continue to inspire me, and your advice and your challenges will no doubt occupy my mind.

But now it is time to return home, to give back to those who place their trust in me, to rest awhile, to be with my darling George, who has put up with me for 51 years—it has got to be a record—and with my great children, and my 26 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

I had to say that, Pete, because you only have one! I was trying to work out how I could beat him at something.

And then on Saturday I will start thinking about my next project for transformation.

To everyone who has given me the strength and the support to promote possibility and belief for every w’ānau to grow, I thank you. Your vision, our vision, will be evident in the nation that we create together tomorrow.

To the three W’ānau Ora commissioning agencies, I want to mihi to you all for the great opportunity and the great direction that I know you will take us in.

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